England topped the group and didn't lose a game, but there are still concerns in the squad.
England World Cup Fixtures, Squad, Group, Guide
England qualified comfortably for the 2018 World Cup without setting the world alight. They were unbeaten in 10 games but scored only 18 goals and often struggled to break down defensive-minded teams. Gareth Southgate stepped up from an under-21 role following Sam Allardyce’s surprise exit. There were disappointing crowds at Wembley – but England still had the highest average attendance of any European qualifier.
Related: World Cup TV Schedule
Key Moments in Qualifying
Sam Allardyce quits as manager after 67 days and one game in charge – the 1-0 victory over Slovakia – following a newspaper “sting”.
An injury-time equaliser from Harry Kane earns a 2-2 draw with Scotland at Hampden Park.
After struggling to break down a Malta side that put 10 men behind the ball, England score three times in the last five minutes. Three days later, they recover from conceding an early goal to beat Slovakia 2-1.
A 1-0 win over Slovenia at Wembley confirms qualification in front of a disappointing crowd at Wembley.
England World Cup Group
England World Cup Friendlies
England’s first 2018 warm-up match was against the Netherlands on the 23rd of March, and then Italy followed four days later. Two more friendlies follow on the 2nd and 7th of June against Nigeria, and Costa Rica.
- 23rd March – Netherlands (won 1-0)
- 27th March – Italy (drew 1-1)
- 2nd June – Nigeria
- 7th June – Costa Rica
Related: World Cup Friendlies
England World Cup Fixtures
Related: World Cup Fixtures
Gareth Southgate, age 47 (03.09.70)
Caretaker from September 2016, he was handed a four-year deal that November. Previously the under-21s’ manager, he played in the 1998 World Cup finals, where England lost in the round of 16, and missed a crucial penalty in England’s Euro 96 semi-final penalty shoot-out defeat to Germany.
Tottenham Hotspur striker Harry Kane rescued the side on a number of occasions with crucial goals and was appointed captain in October 2017.
Tottenham midfielder Dele Alli makes clever runs from midfield. Liverpool midfielder Jordan Henderson was Southgate’s preferred choice to anchor the midfield, with Tottenham midfielder Eric Dier. Manchester City’s Kyle Walker is a vibrant attacking right-back. Manchester United forward Marcus Rashford was deployed as a wide attacker or from the bench.
All-time leading scorer Wayne Rooney announced his retirement from international football in August 2017. Liverpool pair Adam Lallana and Daniel Sturridge missed much of the qualifying campaign through injury.
Tottenham midfielder Harry Winks made his debut in the final qualifier against Lithuania. Centre-backs Harry Maguire and Michael Keane, and right-back Kieran Trippier also featured during qualifying.
Related: World Cup Stadiums
England World Cup Squad
Preliminary World Cup Squad –
Goalkeepers – Jack Butland, Jordan Pickford, Nick Pope
Defenders – Ryan Bertrand, Joe Gomez, Phil Jones, Harry Maguire, Danny Rose, John Stones, Kieran Tripper, Kyle Walker, Ashley Young
We originally had Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain in the squad.
England World Cup Injuries
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is out with a knee injury picked up against Roma during the Champions League.
The Unanswered Questions
Who will score the goals if Harry Kane is injured?
Kane was top scorer in the qualifiers, while Jamie Vardy has struggled to repeat his Leicester form of two years ago, and all-time top scorer Wayne Rooney is no longer available.
Is Joe Hart the right man to be first-choice keeper?
He has struggled for form since leaving Manchester City and was criticised for conceding two free-kicks against Scotland. Jordan Pickford of Everton and Burnley’s Tom Heaton are both exciting long-term prospects.
Which players could make a late push for inclusion?
Tottenham midfielder Harry Winks looks a highly accomplished prospect, while Dominic Calvert-Lewin – a star of England’s Under-20 triumph – needs game time at Everton. Midfielder Ruben Loftus-Cheek was the star of the November friendly against Germany.
Could Jack Wilshere be recalled?
England lacked creativity in midfield in the qualifiers, but although Wilshere could provide that spark he has struggled to make Arsenal’s starting line-up following injuries.
Will Southgate opt for a back three?
The manager has encouraged all England teams, from under-17s upwards, to play 4-2-3-1 but has recently experimented with a 3-4-3.
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